PARIS (AP) – A submarine scouring the Indian Ocean on Sunday picked up the signal beacons of the two black boxes of a Yemenia Airways flight that crashed off the Comoros Islands, the French aviation agency said.
A 12-year-old girl, Bahia Bakari, is the only survivor of Tuesday’s early morning crash that killed 152 people on the flight from Paris to Moroni, the capital of the Comoros islands.
The one-line statement Sunday from the French investigation agency BEA gave no indication of when the flight data and cockpit voice recorders in the black boxes of the Airbus A310 jet might be recovered.
Yemenia Flight 626 crashed while landing amid heavy winds off Comoros, an archipelago of three main islands 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) south of Yemen, between Africa’s southeastern coast and
the island of Madagascar.
The BEA and Airbus have sent teams of experts to Comoros to investigate the crash, and French and U.S. ships are running a search mission off the northern end of the main island, looking for bodies and debris.
A Yemeni aviation committee said Saturday that divers have recovered pieces of the fuselage of the Airbus 310 and that Yemeni, French and Comoran officials listened to the communication between the control tower and the flight before it went down, but gave no further details.
Since many on board were French Comorans, anger has run high in France since the crash amid allegations that Yemenia aircraft are a safety hazard. Protesters picketed the airport, prompting Yemenia to announce Friday it was suspending all flights from Marseille to Moroni for an indefinite period.
At least 10,000 people marched Saturday in Marseille in memory of the victims and to denounce what some claimed were “flying garbage cans.” Another protest kicked off in Sunday in Paris with 1,000 people marching.
Sixty-one of the people who died in the crash were from Marseille, many of them Comorans.
France’s transport minister, Dominique Bussereau, has said the crashed jet had issues that included broken seats for crew and passengers, out-of-date operation manuals, insufficient pressure on emergency exit doors and unrestrained equipment in the baggage hold. French aviation authorities flagged the problems with the plane during a 2007 inspection. However, Yemenia’s lawyer in France said it was too early to say that the plane’s condition was the cause of the accident.
The crash was the second major air disaster in a month, following the June 1 crash of the Air France Airbus A330 in the Atlantic Ocean while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing 228 people. The black boxes on that aircraft have not been found.